February 18, 2009 (San Jose, CA) – We caught up Svein Tuft (Garmin-Slipstream) in San Jose on Tuesday morning before Stage 3 to Modesto (167.7 km/104.2 miles). With the gathering of black clouds above and the first signs of rain about to hit hard, the temperature was dropping fast – it was hard to recognize anyone with so many layers. The mood at Garmin-Slipsteam was euphoric as Jonathan Vaughters, the DS, was beaming about Thomas Peterson at only twenty-two years, his young protÃ©gÃ© for years, who beat Levi Leipheimer at the line for the Stage 2 win.
What an amazing ride for Peterson taking the win yesterday – it must have come as much a surprise as Mancebo winning the day before.
Svein Tuft: We are really stoked about Thomas’ victory – it was a proper win, a real man’s win – he stayed in the break all day, then killing it on the climbs, and with Stephen Cozza drillin’ it all day in the break. It set him up beautifully so when he came to the last climb with fresh legs he was able to do it.
The Tour is going well so far for Garmin-Slipsteam.
ST: It’s been really good, we’re in a very good position and Zabriskie’s doing great on time trials, Danielson’s climbing better and Vande Velde’s getting better each day, so we are sitting pretty.
So the TT will not be all about Levi in your team’s mind.
ST: Levi is the man, but the time trial is going to be a big day for us I think.
Are you prepared to put a good time trial in as well?
ST: It’s been a little tough as it’s my first race so my aerobic form is good but my top end is not just there yet. But with some good racing in the legs before then I should be able to do some damage.
Everyone is talking about Palomar Pass (1,707m/5,123 ft.) tacked on to the final stage as the nasty one – what are your thoughts?
ST: I used to train a lot down there so I know it well, but it’s not just the Palomar, it’s the actual climb after Cole Grade that is tough, especially if your legs are zapped from Palomar. So at that point it’s all hands on deck trying to stay with our GC leaders to get to the finish. I’m there for Dave (Zabriskie) helping him thru – my GC is over, I’m fine with that. I’m really happy to see our boys doing well, and not thinking about personal goals here; I’ve got a huge program set up for this year and never been in this kind of shape so I’m really contentS I just need to race more.
What are you doing normally this time of the year?
ST: I’ve never been racing this time of the year, so I’m usually skiing, but this is a welcome change. I’m stoked to be here. I’m getting really good sleep after the stages so my batteries are charged.
How much does the weather pull on your performance?
ST: Ironically, when you’re settled down it’s the worst – you start to freeze up. So I’d rather have a hill to climb when it’s this cold so I can get up and get the blood flowing.
No doubt, Tuft will get the blood flowing in San Diego if not long before then, stay tuned.